Steve Happ Photography Ramblings and dissertations

December 7, 2009

Belmont Lagoon Bird Photography

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Belmont Lagoon Bird Photography

7th December, 2009.

I got up early this morning but I was still later than the sun. It was out before 6am. Does that mean I will have to get up even earlier? The fog was rolling in but got burnt off later on so I knew it was going to be hot today. As soon as I got out of the car there were birds all around me – Australian Wood Duck, hybrid ducks, Silver Gull and Common Myna. There were Spotted Turtle-doves, Crested Pigeons and Little Wattlebirds on the over head wires as well. And then an Eastern Koel starting screeching out on top of a telegraph pole before I even got on the track.

Further down the track, I spotted a whole heap of White-throated Needletails flying past. They have been seen a fair bit in our area lately. I think I saw approximately a hundred flying north. They feed in rising thermal currents and are commonly seen moving along with wind fronts. White-throated Neeletail are in Family: Apodidae and Order: Apodiformes.

White-throated Needletail
White-throated Needletail (Hirundapus caucacutus)

A Brown Honeyeater sat up in a tree along the track just for me, so I had to take his photo.

Brown Honeyeater
Brown Honeyeater (Lichmera indistincta)

At the point where Belmont Lagoon flows into Cold Tea Creek there were two Bar-tailed Godwits, a Black-winged Stilt and about half a dozen Silver Gull. Later on I saw a Bar-tailed Godwit feeding in the creek, which I thought was very unusual. Later on I saw this Magpie-lark annoying this Laughing Kookaburra. The kookaburra was not too concerned at first but eventually got fed up with the Magpie-lark and flew off.

Kookaburra and Peewee
Magpie-lark (Grallina cyanoleuca) and Laughing Kookaburra (Dacelo novaeguineae)

On the way back I spotted this very strange behaviour. A White-breasted Woodswallow was sitting on a branch flicking its tail from side to side and putting its wings out. There was another bird watching it. I am assuming it is some sort of displaying behaviour associated with a mating ritual, but I am still not sure.


White-breasted Woodswallow (Artamus leucorynchus)

Edit: David Stowe has confirmed for me that this tail shaking is indeed a mating ritual.

Belmont Lagoon bird list 7/12/09

Common Myna
Australian Wood Duck
Silver Gull
Spotted Turtle-dove
Crested Pigeon
Little Wattlebird
Eastern Koel
Willy Wagtail
Magpie-lark
Welcome Swallow
Australian Magpie
White-throated Needletail
Super Fairy-wren
Little Pied Cormorant
Black-winged Stilt
Bar-tailed Godwit 2
White-breasted Godwit
Eastern Whipbird (H)
Laughing Kookaburra
Grey Butcherbird
Silvereye
Rufous Whistler
Grey Fantail
Black Swan
White-faced Heron
Chestnut Teal
Little Black Cormorant
Striated Heron
Red-browed Finch
White-browed Scrubwren
Royal Spoonbill
Little Egret
Great Egret
Masked Lapwing
Bar-shouldered Dove
Grey Shrike-thrush
Crested Tern

Recommended Resource

Field Guide to the Birds of Australia (Helm Field Guides)

September 30, 2009

Belmont Lagoon Bird Photography 090930

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Belmont Lagoon Bird Photography, 30th September, 2009.

I had not been to Belmont Lagoon for ages, it seemed. So this morning I went for a look-see. The first thing I saw as soon as I got out of the van was a Mallard. There were a bunch of Little Black Cormorants on the wires. Further on along the creek I saw a Brown Honeyeater, Red Wattlebird, Sacred Kingfisher and some White-cheeked Honeyeaters feeding on some lovely red bottle-brush.

White-cheeked Honeyeater
White-cheeked Honeyeater (Phylidonyris nigra)

White-cheeked Honeyeater

Some Red-browed Finch were feeding along the track and about 8 Little Egrets, some in breeding plumage, were roosting on the top of the casuarina trees across the creek.

Little Egret
Little Egret (Ardea garzetta)

And, joy oh joy, the White-breasted Woodswallows are back. It must be spring. Hmm, I wonder where they went? I saw another juvenile Rufous Whistler this morning.

juvenile Rufous Whistler
juvenile Rufous Whistler (Pacycephala rufiventris)

I saw a Sacred Kingfisher and further on I saw what I think is a Forest Kingfisher.

Forest Kingfisher ?
Forest Kingfisher (Todiramphus macleayii)

At the end of the creek, I turned right and a pair of Eastern Whipbird were calling and flittering around in a stand of trees. They were very active. Maybe they are courting. I got a couple of photos after a patient wait for them to stop still for just a second.

Eastern Whipbird
Eastern Whipbird (Psophodes olivaceus)

A Tawny Grassbird was making a racket. I must go and listen to its call so I can identify it better. A rabbit hopped over the road when I headed to the north, and later I watched a Red-bellied Black Snake wriggle across the road when I disturbed him having a sunbake. I am glad that I was making lots of noise as I walked up to him. Towards the end of the peninsular, some Caspian Terns were diving for fish. They were too far away for me to see what they were getting, but there were lots of mullet in the lagoon that I saw.

Belmont Lagoon bird list 30/9/09

Australian Pelican
Welcome Swallow
Grey Fantail
Superb Fairy-wren
Silvereye
Australian Raven
Pacific Black Duck
White-browed Scrubwren
Laughing Kookaburra
Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike
Masked Lapwing
Chestnut Teal
Mallard
Silver Gull
Little Black Cormorant
Spotted Turtle-dove
Crested Pigeon
Magpie-lark
White-cheeked Honeyeater
Brown Honeyeater
Red Wattlebird
Little Wattlebird
Sacred Kingfisher
Forest Kingfisher
Black Swan
Red-browed Finch
Yellow Thornbill
Little Egret in breeding plumage
White-breasted Woodswallow
Rufous Whistler immature
Eastern Whipbird
Eastern Rosella
Tawny Grassbird
White-faced Heron
Caspian Tern
Common Myna

July 18, 2009

Belmont Lagoon 090718

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Bird Photography at Belmont Lagoon, 18th July, 2009.

Its been a few days since I have been able to get out and photograph some birds, but this morning was a beautiful sunny day with little to no wind. I took off down to Belmont Lagoon. I haven’t been there for a while, so it was good to get back there. There was a Little Pied Cormorant perched on the wire, drying out his wings, a few Galahs flew by in the distance, and there were a bunch of Yellow Thornbills and Brown Thornbills flittering around the casuarina trees along Cold Tea Creek. I went right after I got to the end of the Cold Tea Creek track and I saw a few Southern Emu-wren but never got a chance to photograph one, they were moving around too much for me to get focus on them.

But there were quite a few New Holland Honeyeaters in this area as well. I thought they were White-cheeked Honeyeaters at first because they are more common in this area. But I had a closer look and they had the white eyes which pretty well gives the game away for the New Holland Honeyeaters.

New Holland Honeyeater
New Holland Honeyeater (Phylidonyris novaehollandiae)

I saw a few rabbits hopping around. It would be a good idea to get rid of them somehow I reckon. But, how? I followed the track towards the left, going north, towards the Belmont Wetlands and took the track to the east of it. I was looking out for any raptors in the dead trees in the swamp, but there were none at all around today. Just a lonely Spotted Turtle-dove hanging out on the wire. I thought it was a White-headed Pigeon at first because he was so light, but as soon as I saw the spots around his neck, I knew what he was. The Spotted Turtle-dove is also known as the Chinese Turtle-dove or the Indian Turtle-dove.

Spotted Turtle-dove
Spotted Turtle-dove (Streptopelia chinensis)

I went back along Cold Tea Creek and saw a flock of Red-browed Finch feeding on the grasses at the side of the track.

Red-browed Finch
Red-browed Finch (Neochmia temporalis)

Nearly back at the car and there was a Great Egret and a Darter sitting on the pipe that goes across the creek. And the usual Australian Wood Duck. After that I went for a surf at Blacksmiths and had a great day in the sun. What a beautiful day!

Belmont Lagoon Bird Species List, 18/7/09

Little Pied Cormorant
Galah
Yellow Thornbill
Brown Thornbill
Red-browed Finch
Little Wattlebird
Southern Emu-wren
New Holland Honeyeater
Spotted Turtle-dove
Great Egret
Darter
Australian Wood Duck

July 1, 2009

Belmont Lagoon Bird Route

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Introduction:

Belmont Lagoon is located between the Pacific Ocean and Lake Macquarie at Belmont South. It is made up of open water, Melaleuca forest, swampy heath, and reed beds. The Awabakal People utilised its resources for thousands of years. During World War II tetrahedral concrete blocks were used as tank traps along Cold Tea Creek. To get there, find your way to Belmont South and park near the entrance to Cold Tea Creek, near the Squid’s Ink Restaurant (which is on the Pacific Highway), either at the car park by the lake or on Capri Close, which is situated next to the creek.

1. Cold Tea Creek Entrance:

Park here at the start of the track that heads up along Cold Tea Creek on the northern side. If you cross the highway to the lake you will see cormorants, Australian Pelican, Black Swans, Australian Wood Duck and other common water birds. At the start of the track you might see Spangled Drongo, White-breasted Woodswallows, Australian White Ibis, or Spotted Doves hanging out on the wires.

2. Cold Tea Creek:

Along the creek look out for Azure and Sacred Kingfishers or a Striated Heron roosting in the lower branches of the mangroves. There may be egrets fishing either on the sandbar to the north of where the lagoon flows through a pipe into Cold Tea Creek or on the southern side if there are mullet present. Out on the lagoon you might see cormorants, egrets, Royal Spoonbills, White-faced Herons, Black Swans, or Australian Pelicans. In the trees along the channel live thornbills, Red-browed Finch, Variegated Fairy-wrens, Yellow-faced Honeyeaters, Striped Honeyeaters and Silvereyes. The reed beds are home to Tawny Grassbird, Golden-headed Cisticola and Lewin’s Rail.

3. To The Right:

At the end of the track along Cold Tea Creek you come to an intersection. If you turn right you will be getting into heath country and you may see White-cheeked Honeyeaters, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, or Little Wattlebirds. About a hundred metres along here on the ocean side Southern Emu-wren and Brush Bronzewing have been seen so keep your eye out for these. If you keep on going along this track, just before it hits the bitumen, there may be Eastern Whipbirds in the stand of paperbarks on the ocean side.

4. Peninsula:

Turning left at the end of Cold Tea Creek and then left again at the next crossroads will lead you to the peninsula. There will be bush birds such as Red-browed Finch, Rufous Whistler, thornbills and Dollarbirds. Buff-banded Rail and Spotless Crake have been seen along here in the reeds, so keep your eye out for these, as well as the Azure and Sacred Kingfishers. You may also see raptors such as Black-shouldered Kite, White-bellied Sea-Eagle and Eastern Osprey.

5. Belmont Wetlands:

After you come out of the peninsula, turn left and head towards the Belmont Wetlands. Along this track there will be lots of Silvereyes and thornbills. If you keep going along this track you will get to the end of Railway Parade and you can turn right here and follow the old train line along the Belmont Wetlands (5a).

6. Jewells Track:

On the way back, when you are at the crossroads at the end of the peninsula, you can go further along following the power lines on the road to Jewells. There may be Eastern Whipbirds, New Holland Honeyeaters and Grey Butcherbirds in the trees and bitou bush. When you get to the dead trees that are in the swamp you may see some raptors like the White-bellied Sea-Eagle or a Grey Goshawk roosting in them. On the way back to the entrance to Cold Tea Creek, you get a second chance to see anything that you might have missed on the way in! Good luck and happy birding.

June 25, 2009

Belmont Lagoon Bird Photography 090625

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Bird Photography at Belmont Lagoon 25th June, 2009

Well, this story starts yesterday afternoon. I went to Belmont North swamp and parked at Lenaghans oval on Wommara Avenue at Belmont North. There were a bunch of Yellow-faced Honeyeaters in the flowering eucalypts and a couple of rainbow lorikeet. I followed this creek into the swamp but there was nothing much about. I followed the edge of the bush after that and saw only some Chestnut Teal and Australian Wood Duck in an artificial pond at some estate they were building. It was a major disappointment. I could not find my way into the middle of the swamp so that maybe better. I don’t know.

This morning I went to Belmont Lagoon and wandered down Cold Tea Creek. There were a mob of Little Black Cormorants roosting on the wires as well as a Little Pied Cormorant and a few Spotted Turtle-doves. Further up in the reeds there were some Yellow Thornbill, Brown Thornbill, Superb Fairy-wren and Southern Emu-wren. I could not get any decent photos of the Emu-wrens as they kept behind the bushes and would not come out into the open. I was most disappointed.

I turned right at the end of the creek and saw a heap of White-cheeked Honeyeaters, and some Crested Pigeons. In the distance towards the beach, I saw a Black-shouldered Kite on a dead tree. I walked up the road to get closer, and ended up bashing through the bush to get a closer look at him. I finally got pretty close and got some lovely photos.

Black-shouldered Kite
Black-shouldered Kite(Elanus axillaris)

After that I went towards the peninsula and there were some Little
Wattlebirds and a pair of Striped Honeyeaters. The wattlebirds were trying to get rid of the Striped Honeyeaters but they were having none of it. There was not much up the peninsula except some Black Swans. On the way back I saw a Nankeen Kestrel hovering near the sewerage treatment works. I went over and then say a hovering Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, which was quite weird. I have seen a white-bellied Cuckoo-shrike doing the same thing. I must find out about this behaviour.

Little Wattlebird
Little Wattlebird(Anthochaera chrysoptera)

Striped Honeyeater
Striped Honeyeater(Plectorhyncha lanceolata)

The Nankeen Kestrel came closer and was hovering quite close to me and I got some good shots. I was stoked. After that, I went back down Cold Tea Creek where I saw some Red-browed Finches and an Intermediate Egret, some Chestnut Teals and another Little Pied Cormorant. By this time my card was full and I had taken 8 gigs of photos. I havent had time to process them yet, so I will put them in here when I get them done. I had to write this up before I forgot it all. Edit: The photos have finally been edited.

Nankeen Kestrel
Nankeen Kestrel(Falco cenchroides)

Bird Species List, Belmont Lagoon, 25/6/09

Little Black Cormorant
Little PIed Cormorant
Spotted Turtle-dove
Yellow Thornbill
Southern Emu-wren
Brown Thornbill
White-cheeked Honeyeater
Crested Pigeon
Black-shouldered Kite
Little Wattlebird
Striped HOneyeater
Black Swan
Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike
Nankeen Kestrel
Red-browed Finch
Superb Fairy-wren
Intermediate Egret

May 28, 2009

Belmont Lagoon Bird Photos 090528

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Bird Photography at Belmont Lagoon, 28th May, 2009.

This morning I went to Belmont Lagoon, which is just near Lake Macquarie, and feeds into it from Cold Tea Creek at Belmont South. Heading up along the creek, I saw a little egret trying to sit on the top of this casuarina tree and not being very successful, because it just bent, of course. Then I was hearing this cheep cheep sound and spied an Azure Kingfisher through the trees. I took a very blurry and dark photo and tried to get closer, even walking in the lagoon in my gum boots, but did not see him again. I would really love to get a decent photo of an Azure Kingfisher. One day, for sure.

But I did get a decent shot of a Spangled Drongo perched on a telegraph wire. There have been a few around lately.

Spangled Drongo
Spangled Drongo(Dicrurus bracteatus)

There were a few other birds on the way down the creek such as Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, a shag on a stick, Superb Fairy-wrens, and a few White-cheeked HOneyeaters, as well as mobs of the usual Yellow-faced Honeyeaters. Then I spied a pair of Little Wattlebirds playing around, arguing and singing to each other. It was quite humorous.

Little Wattlebird
Little Wattlebird(Anthochaera chrysoptera)

And here is one having a good old singalong.

Little Wattlebird

I went to the right at the end of the track, looking for some Southern Emu-wren, but no success. I came back and then went left towards the peninsula that juts into Belmont Lagoon. There were heaps of Red-browed Finch with a lot of Juveniles amongst them. A Black-shouldered Kite flew past and then I spotted this White-faced Heron having a meal of a lizard.

White-faced Heron
White-faced Heron(Egretta novaehollandiae)

Bird Species List, Belmont Lagoon, 28/5/09

Little Egret
Azure Kingfisher
Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike
Superb Fairy-wren
Little Pied Cormorant
Spangled Drongo
White-cheeked Honeyeater
White-faced Heron
Little Wattlebird
Yellow-faced HOneyeater
Grey Butcherbird
Red-browed Finch
Black-shouldered Kite
Silvereye
Australian White Ibis
Australian Wood Duck

May 10, 2009

Belmont Lagoon Bird Photography 090510

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Bird Photography at Belmont Lagoon, 10th May, 2009

This afternoon, after all the rain of the morning, I went to Belmont Lagoon, which is just next to the ocean, and is fresh water, feeding into Cold Tea Creek at Belmont South, which goes into Lake Macquarie, which is in turn connected to the sea, via the Swansea Channel. So, you see, it does eventually get to the ocean. But in a roundabout way. But, I digress. As soon as I got out of the car, I saw a couple of Spangled Drongos just behind a couple of houses in a tree.

Spangled Drongo

The Spangled Drongo(Dicrurus bracteatus) frequents jungle and open forest. They are migratory, arriving from the north during October and leaving in March. Some birds go to South-eastern New south wales in autumn and winter, whilst others remain in the north all the year. Insects from the main bulk of the bird’s diet which they catch in flight. The bristles around the base of the bill assist in catching insects by guiding them into the open bill.

Spangled Drongo

I walked on to the end of the road and then turned right, towards Belmont South. Usually I turn left and head towards Jewels. I saw a White-bellied Sea-eagle in the distance but it was too far away. This one looked very large. There were a few Spotted Turtle Doves on the wires and a mob of Yellow-faced Honeyeaters scampering through the trees. On the way back I saw some Southern Emu-wrens(Stipiturus malachurus) in a casuarina tree. This one here is a female. The male was on the other side of the tree and did not come out into the open, I only have a blurry shot of a male in the background of a couple of photographs.

Southern Emu-wren

The Southern Emu-wren lives mainly in swampy heathlands and feeds on insects. Their nest is oval with a side-entrance near the top. They are of the Family: Maluridae and Order: Passeriformes.

Southern Emu-wren

This Great Egret(Ardea alba) was fishing in Cold Tea Creek as I walked back. There were quite a few fish in the creek, jumping around. they were probably mullet, as it is a breeding area for mullet in the lagoon. Here, this Egret is having a good go at a fish.

Great Egret

And this is what the Egret managed to catch – a rather small mullet, I presume. But its pretty good fishing on his part. Well done, Mr Egret.

Great Egret

Sources:
centennialparklands.com.
What Bird is That, N W Cayley.

Bird Species List, Belmont Lagoon, 10/5/09

Great Egret
Spangled Drongo
Silver Gull
Yellow-faced Honeyeater
Grey Fantail
Black Swan
Superb Fairy-wren
Southern Emu-wren
Spotted Turtle-Dove

February 25, 2009

Bird Photography Belmont Lagoon 090225

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Bird Photography at Belmont Lagoon. 25th February, 2009.

This morning I went to Belmont Lagoon to do some more bird photography. I have been going four mornings in a row. I did want to do some surfing photography the other day but it was not very good, so I just carried on to Redhead Lagoon. Well this morning I finally got a photo of a Striated Heron(Butorides striatus). This has been my third trip here without a photo of this bird but today I finally cracked it. Its not very good, not sharp and it is noisy, but it is a photo.

Striated Heron

I made my way along the lagoon edge and along the sand dunes I saw a White-cheeked Honeyeater and a Little Wattlebird or two. There was a White-bellied Sea-eagle roosting on a dead tree in the middle of a swamp. Also roosting on dead trees were a white-faced heron and a cormorant. This young Grey Butcherbird was singing a song for me as I headed back towards the peninsula.

Grey Butcherbird

There were a heap of Red-browed Finch along the road and in the trees.

Red-browed Finch

And once again i came upon a White-cheeked honeyeater. These are becoming quite common to see in coastal heathlands. Maybe that is their main habitat.

White-cheeked Honeyeater

An Azure Kingfisher flashed past me going along the creek, I managed to get a shot off, but it was blurred. Too bad. As ever, the White-breasted Woodswallows were posing quite well. They are the attention seekers, aren’t they?

White-breasted woodswallow

And the Little Wattlebirds were making their usual raucous calls. I am beginning to really like these birds.

Little Wattlebird

And that was it for the day. I processed all the photos up and there they were, the best ones for your viewing enjoyment! 🙂

Click here for Little Wattlebird Call in mp3

Belmont Lagoon Bird Species List, 25/2/09

Spotted Turtle-dove
White-faced Heron
Striated Heron
White-breasted woodswallow
White-cheeked Honeyeater
Little Wattlebird
Red-browed Finch
White-bellied Sea-eagle
Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike
Grey Butcherbird
Grey Fantail
Willy Wagtail
Silvereye
Azure Kingfisher
Black Swan

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